1

puzzle

verb puz·zle \ ˈpə-zəl \

Definition of puzzle

puzzled; puzzling play \ˈpə-zə-liŋ, ˈpəz-liŋ\
transitive verb
1 :to offer or represent to (someone) a problem difficult to solve or a situation difficult to resolve :challenge mentally; also :to exert (oneself, one's mind, etc.) over such a problem or situation
  • they puzzled their wits to find a solution
2 archaic :complicate, entangle
3 :to solve with difficulty or ingenuity
  • puzzle out an answer to a riddle
intransitive verb
1 :to be uncertain as to action or choice
2 :to attempt a solution of a puzzle by guesswork or experiment
  • puzzle over the mystery

puzzler

play \ˈpə-zə-lər, ˈpəz-lər\ noun

Examples of puzzle in a Sentence

  1. The cause of the accident has puzzled investigators.

  2. it is the cause of the disease that puzzles doctors

Recent Examples of puzzle from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'puzzle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of puzzle

origin unknown

Synonym Discussion of puzzle

puzzle, perplex, bewilder, distract, nonplus, confound, dumbfound mean to baffle and disturb mentally. puzzle implies existence of a problem difficult to solve.
    • the persistent fever puzzled the doctor
perplex adds a suggestion of worry and uncertainty especially about making a necessary decision.
    • a behavior that perplexed her friends
bewilder stresses a confusion of mind that hampers clear and decisive thinking.
    • a bewildering number of possibilities
distract implies agitation or uncertainty induced by conflicting preoccupations or interests.
    • distracted by personal problems
nonplus implies a bafflement that makes orderly planning or deciding impossible.
    • the remark left us utterly nonplussed
confound implies temporary mental paralysis caused by astonishment or profound abasement.
    • the tragic news confounded us all
dumbfound suggests intense but momentary confounding; often the idea of astonishment is so stressed that it becomes a near synonym of astound.
    • was at first too dumbfounded to reply

2

puzzle

noun

Definition of puzzle

1 :the state of being puzzled :perplexity
2 a :something that puzzles
b :a question, problem, or contrivance designed for testing ingenuity

Examples of puzzle in a Sentence

  1. a book of puns, riddles, and puzzles

  2. the final fate of the colonists at Roanoke remains a puzzle to this very day

Recent Examples of puzzle from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'puzzle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of puzzle

1599

Synonym Discussion of puzzle

mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes. mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation.
    • the mystery of the stone monoliths
problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern.
    • problems created by high technology
enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret.
    • his suicide remains an enigma
riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction.
    • the riddle of the reclusive pop star
puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution.
    • the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police


PUZZLE Defined for English Language Learners

puzzle

verb

Definition of puzzle for English Language Learners

  • : to confuse (someone) : to be difficult for (someone) to understand


puzzle

noun

Definition of puzzle for English Language Learners

  • : a question or problem that requires thought, skill, or cleverness to be answered or solved

  • : something or someone that is difficult to understand


PUZZLE Defined for Kids

1

puzzle

verb puz·zle \ ˈpə-zəl \

Definition of puzzle for Students

puzzled; puzzling
1 :confuse 1, perplex
  • The mysterious phone call puzzles me.
2 :to solve by thought or by clever guessing
  • She tried to puzzle out the crime.

Headscratcher for puzzle

Puzzle has two opposite meanings. If something puzzles you, it confuses you. If you puzzle out a problem or mystery, you solve it.


2

puzzle

noun

Definition of puzzle for Students

1 :a question, problem, or device intended to test skill or cleverness
3 :something that perplexes :mystery


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